Filosofa’s BIG Announcement!

Okay, folks … here is my big announcement:

I’ve decided to run for President of the United States in November 2020! 

Um … don’t everybody wear your hands out applauding now … well, a little bit of applause might be nice … okay, I’ll settle for those few chuckles I heard.

Now, I can’t afford a huge campaign, and I will NOT take a single dime from any business or lobbying interest, so that puts me at a disadvantage before I even get to the gate. However, I do have a few advantages over the rest of the pack, but I’ll get to those in a minute.

First, a few of my highest priorities:

  • Environmental
    • The United States will immediately, the day after I take office, rejoin the Paris Accord
    • All regulations on the fossil fuel and auto industries that were revoked by my predecessor will immediately be re-instated
    • I will petition Congress for emergency funding to re-build the Environmental Protection Agency and will nominate a conscientious person as director of that agency
    • We will enhance our renewable energy resources and provide incentives for companies to develop new sustainable energy sources
  • Constitutional Issues
    • I will support freedom of the press to the fullest, even when I don’t like what they say about me – the free press is our only hope for remaining a free people
    • Separation of church and state will be the law. There is no place for religion in government, and this government will support no particular religion over another
    • I will petition Congress for a ban on all assault weapons, and for expanded background checks, as well as training and licensing in order to obtain any sort of firearm
  • Education
    • All funding for the Department of Education will go toward public schools where all children will be treated equally; taxpayer money will NOT be used for ‘charter’ schools that benefit only the few
    • I will propose that Congress introduce legislation to provide free college tuition for a minimum of two years to all students whose annual family income falls below $100,000
    • School curriculums will be evaluated and re-designed as necessary in order to provide students with a well-balanced education that includes both career training and a liberal arts education
    • Religion will not be taught in public schools. Parents who wish their children to obtain religious training may send their children to religious schools at their own expense
  • Health Care
    • No person in the country will be without affordable healthcare. Most will pay according to their ability to pay, without such payment placing undo hardship.  Those who cannot afford to pay will receive free healthcare
    • There will be an ad hoc committee to study prescription drug costs and appropriate caps will be put on all pharmaceuticals
  • Taxation
    • The tax brackets will be expanded for those earning over $100,000 per year. Those whose net worth is $1 million or more will fall into the highest income tax brackets, to be determined before year end
  • Economy
    • Unfettered capitalism will cease to exist. My administration will place a higher value on human life than on GDP
    • The Chairman of the Federal Reserve will decide at what point it is prudent to raise or lower interest rates without coercion from myself or others. This is not a political agency, but one based on the best interest of the nation
    • We will aim for a balanced budget, or at least reduce the deficit by 20% each year, and will not increase the national debt beyond its current levels
  • International Relations
    • We will begin re-building trust among our allies in whatever way possible
    • We will hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the brutal murder of our journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by severing any arms agreements, and imposing other sanctions as seen fit
    • There will be NO wall on our border

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but merely the top bullet points of my platform.  Now, what do I bring to the table, since it damn sure isn’t money or fame?

Honesty and integrity, for starters.  I will take not a single dime from any organization that seeks special favours or sees their donation as creating an obligation.  I will not lie … if I cannot tell you something, I will simply say that I cannot discuss it, but I will not lie or over-inflate my achievements.  I will demand the same from any cabinet members that I select.

Compassion and humanity.  I will put the people of this nation … all the people … ahead of profit.  One thing this means is that I will never demean or mock another human being.  We’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.  I will not tolerate bigotry in any form. The emphasis of this government will be people, not weapons of war, not profit for the biggest corporations, but the well-being of people.

Literacy.  Unlike my predecessor, I have studied politics and history all my life, hold a B.S. in both Accounting and Political Science, and an M.A. in International Relations.  I have read the U.S. Constitution at least 50 times in the past 30 years and have taken a number of classes in Constitutional Law.  I have studied past presidents.  And I can write more than 5 words without a spelling error.  In other words, I know the difference between ‘origins’ and ‘oranges’.

Common Sense.  I am smart enough to realize that there are many, many things I will not know, but unlike my predecessor, I am willing to seek the advice of those who do know those things.  I am also smart enough to realize that sometimes we all make mistakes, but the important thing is to admit those mistakes, then take steps to rectify the errors.  This I will do.

And that, my friends, is all I have to offer.  Now all I have to do is find a running mate who shares my values and vision.  Any takers?

A Rudderless Ship — Part III

I think I can honestly make the statement that the United States of America is adrift with no leadership.  Donald Trump is more concerned with almost anything except the myriad of troubles facing this nation and its people, and the majority in Congress are more concerned with staying on Trump’s good side, if he has one, than with serving their constituents.  Perhaps of equal concern is that a significant portion of the adult population of this nation seem content to remain bobbing in a vast sea of nothingness, just so long as Trump rants and talks ‘tough’.

We do not have a president at the helm, but instead we have an entertainer, a circus clown.  Trump’s personal lawyer (one of a cadre) is under investigation and has, it turns out, done so many shady deals that the sun may never shine in his presence.  I’m betting a good number of those deals were done on behalf of Trump.  His current doctor is an alcoholic candyman and his former doctor is a looney bird who, it turns out, let Trump write his own health report in which he said he would be the ‘healthiest president in history’.

The man who sits in the Oval Office does not understand foreign policy in the least bit, and worse yet, sees no reason to learn anything about how the U.S. does or should interact with other nations.  Instead, his foreign policy consists of one and only one goal:  to undo anything and everything that was done during the eight years of the Obama administration.  Thus, he has announced his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, leaving the U.S. the only nation on the globe that has said, “oh well” and shrugged its shoulders to the ongoing devastation caused by carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  He has destroyed important international trade agreements without even knowing what the terms are, and further, imposed damning tariffs on friends and foes alike.  He is likely to cancel the Iran deal that was making the world safer.

He is under investigation for collusion with Russia in order to buy the election, and for obstruction of justice in trying to interfere with investigations into his wrong doings.  And instead of being cooperative or showing even a modicum of concern, he acts for all the world as if he is guilty and spends his time ranting about being a ‘victim’ of a witch hunt.  Although he did not win the election honestly – that much is already proven – he is still spending time pursuing his opponent, Hillary Clinton … even after he has been in office for fifteen months!  Talk about a witch hunt!

His intent was never to govern or to lead … his intent was always to rule.  He does not insist on knowledge or intellect from his staff, but rather asks for blind loyalty and empty, inane praise.  He does not wish to hear from his advisors what he needs to hear, but rather what he wants to hear.  And thus far, most of his staff have been happy to comply.  Those who didn’t, such as James Comey and Rex Tillerson, are no longer part of his staff.  His lawyers are making a mad dash for the exits, much like rats deserting a sinking ship.

Donald Trump is tearing this nation apart.  He is making horrible decisions affecting humans, the environment and the economy … decisions that will carry a high price tag well into the future.  He has the mental capacity of a five-year-old and the linguistic skills of a teenager.

So with all that said, could somebody please tell me why his overall approval rating, as based on an aggregate of polls, keeps edging up???  What the Sam Heck are people finding to approve of?  What’s to like?  Not. One. Single. Thing. Granted, there is some skewing of the polls, for people like you and I rarely if ever respond to unsolicited phone calls, meaning that the average person polled is likely a bored housewife with nothing better to do who will say she likes Trump because he “tells it like it is”, as she read on a Facebook meme one day.

Instead of worrying about important issues both at home and abroad, he is planning a military parade whereby the armed forces will march down Pennsylvania Avenue and salute him.  Instead of trying to actually understand the complexities of the Iran deal, he is busy threatening Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over a closed case against Hillary Clinton.  Instead of taking time to study the data on climate change, he is trying to figure out a CYA plan to counter a lawsuit by a former mistress.  THIS IS NOT A PRESIDENT!

The United States was once considered a world leader, was once referred to as the land of opportunity, but in just fifteen short months we have started down a path toward being barely above a third world, underdeveloped nation.  Our leaders care not if we have health care, if we have air that is breathable or water that is drinkable.  They care not that we are so far in debt and getting in deeper every day.  They care not that racism and white supremacy are on the rise.  It is time for the people … yes you REPUBLICANS … to wake up and smell the coffee!  In the Capitol we have a majority of wimps who are too afraid of Trump and the GOP to do the right thing.  WAKE UP, Congress, and realize that Donald Trump is NOT your boss – We The People are!  If they have not stood firm and begun the process of removing Trump from office by November, they better be voted out of their own offices, else by the next election, this rudderless ship will have hit the iceberg and be on its way to the bottom of the sea.

A Rudderless Ship — Part I

A Rudderless Ship — Part II

Response To Frank Luntz About Americans Antipathy Towards The President’s SOTU Address

Most of the people of this nation were not impressed with Trump’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, and for good reason. But apparently republican pollster Frank Luntz takes umbrage and thinks we should all be fawning over Trump and he cannot understand why we aren’t. Friend Gronda has responded to Mr. Luntz, clarifying to him all the reasons that We The People are not falling for his self-aggrandizing speech. Her response is perfect. Please read this excellent post. Thank you Gronda, for I could not have said it better!

Gronda Morin

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Frank Luntz, s republican pollster and a former critic of the republican President Donald Trump has been doing the rounds of the TV news shows as a guest bemoaning why the American peoples were not responding more favorably to the president’s State of the Union address that he delivered on January 30, 2018. (See: Frank Luntz, former Trump hater: ‘I owe Donald Trump an apology WashingtonTimes )

This is my response….

Dear Frank Luntz and Republicans, If you have to win elections with the help of the Russians, you don’t deserve any wins in the 2018 mid term November elections. The president cannot continue to constantly lie to the American peoples, talk with racist overtones about our fellow citizens, attack the pillars of our community like the FBI and the Department of Justice with impunity. This is just for starters.

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Despite, the white House’s talking points, the Americans do…

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Tax Bill Reconciliation?

Members of Congress have been busy as little beavers, trying to bring the House and Senate versions of the ‘tax reform bills’ together into a single bill for Trump to sign.  They seem to be in such a rush that they do not have time for such things as facts and credible analyses.  They remind me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who is looking at his pocket watch, repeatedly saying, “I’m late, I’m late …”

What’s the rush?  Well, first of all, they are under pressure from Trump and from their rich donors to “get ‘er done”.  More to the point, while the budget was extended for two weeks, that is a very short time to prepare a spending bill, get the necessary votes, reconcile the House and Senate versions, and get it signed.  Look how long the tax bill is taking, after all! Thus, a government shutdown still looms.  So, I understand the rush, but … both of these bills are so terrible that neither deserve consideration, and to completely disregard the facts, to ignore every likely outcome, is destined to do far more harm to the people of this nation than it will benefit them.  Let us take a look …

Today, the Department of Treasury, under the ‘leadership’ of Trump’s handpicked Steven Mnuchin, issued its “Analysis of Growth and Revenue Estimates Based on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Tax Reform Plan”. The tax bills are filled with fallacies and fantasies that are far more appropriate for children’s storybooks than for government policies.  Let us begin with the claim by Congress that the gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy will pay for themselves.  The Treasury Department report itself debunks this myth, as have a number of independent and non-partisan groups before this.  The plan will cost an estimated $1.5 trillion in lost revenue from major corporation and wealthy taxpayers, and is only projected to generate an additional $408 billion in additional revenue from growth.  Thus, the deficit would be more than a trillion dollars to add to our already astronomical national debt.

Treasury analysisBut, that isn’ even the worst of it, for that $408 billion in additional revenue is fallacy #2.  It is based on the assumption that all those large corporations that are saving all that money will reinvest it into solvent enterprises that will a) generate corporate tax dollars, and b) employ people who will pay taxes.  In short, it is based on the fantasy of ‘trickle down’ economics, which I have written about previously, and which has been de-bunked and proven wrong so many times that it should not even enter into the equation.  The Treasury report makes an assumption, based on this marvelous falsehood about trickle down economics of a sustained 2.9% growth rate per year over the next ten years.  Ain’t gonna happen, folks.

There are certain rules for the reconciliation process, one of which is called the Byrd Rule.  The Byrd Rule requires all provisions in the bill to be funded by revenues, and they cannot increase the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window. Obviously, neither version of the current bills being considered could pass either stipulation in the Byrd Bill, nor even come close.  That, in itself, should send them scurrying back to the drawing board for something more reasonable.

Thus far, most of the republicans in Congress still support basically whatever outcome the committee reconciling the bills comes up with, but there are some who are beginning to look at the deficit numbers and have concerns.  One such Senator is Susan Collins of Maine, who says she is as yet undecided, and has laid out certain conditions that would determine her vote, including assurances that federal Medicare payments will not be cut and that Republicans will support two separate health care bills aimed at reducing premium costs.  Far too little, and she does not even mention the deficit, but if it keeps her from voting in favour of the bill, then it’s a start.

While the increase to the national debt is the most important fallacy of these abominable bills, the impact on the average citizen must also play a role.  I did some quick and dirty math earlier today and determined that my own household would be left with a deficit of some $2,500 dollars at the end of next year.  Not a huge sum, perhaps, but still … I cannot call this a tax ‘cut’ by any stretch of the imagination. It means that we will be tightening our belts and spending less money next year, contributing less to the economy.

Now, putting this all together, if the Senate finds a way around the Byrd Rule, and if Susan Collins and the rest are somehow convinced to vote ‘aye’, here is what I see happening.

  • Median earners will have less disposable income, for they will be able to claim fewer deductions, thus effectively raising their tax rate. With less disposable income, they will spend less money on non-essential goods and services.  There goes that 2.9% growth rate, folks.
  • As consumers spend less and less, and fewer people have healthcare because the individual mandate will be gone, the economy will actually begin to lose ground, rather than grow. The national debt, therefore, will increase even faster than the Treasury Department predicts.
  • As the national debt increases, as the economy takes a hit, quarter after quarter, consumer confidence will wane and people who are already struggling will slow their contributions to their 401(k) plans, further reducing economic growth and further increasing the national debt. It is at this point that I look for a hug dip in the stock market.
  • The stock market increase in the past year has been unnatural and largely without a solid foundation. It was built on consumer confidence that stemmed from the lies coming from the administration.  When/if it dips very much, look for a recession.  And then, POP goes the republican bubble.

Now, my analysis is an over-simplification, and there are far too many variables to consider in this short post.  Plus, I am not an economist.  But common sense should tell us all that one cannot build a castle on a foundation of hot air, and that is precisely what Congress is trying to do.  There is no long-range view that has been taken, the immediate goal simply being to pass a bill that benefits all the ‘right’ people, for mid-terms are coming up in less than a year and members of Congress need to get those campaign donations coming in.  Besides that, the pest in the White House keeps calling and asking where the bill is, for he is sitting at his desk, pen in hand.

Thus concludes this bedtime story that is worthy of being included in the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales, for it is, indeed, a grim tale.

JASTA – A Bad Idea

Sometimes there is a disconnect between the brain and the heart, and while we may feel that one thing is the proper course, the brain reminds us that it just is not so.  This post is about one such situation.

At issue is S.1535, Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), passed in the Senate yesterday and now headed to the House of Representatives as H.R.3143, that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. First, the rationale behind JASTA: 15 of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 attacks were Saudis.  Part of the job of the 9/11 commission in 2002 was to investigate how the hijackers were able to operate without alerting U.S. intelligence agencies.  Though the commission’s report was released in 2004, some information was classified and remains so today, including 28 pages pertaining to the Saudi government’s involvement. Recently there has been a major push to declassify and release this information which could, if JASTA becomes law, result in private lawsuits filed in the U.S. courts against the government of Saudi Arabia.

Senators John Cornyn and Chuck Schumer introduced the legislation in 2013 and it enjoys bi-partisan support, though last month Senator Lindsey Graham temporarily blocked it based on concerns that it could backfire on the U.S. Their stated purpose with this bill is to send a message to all nations that they can and will pay a price if they harbor terrorists or in any way aid terrorism, and to afford justice to 9/11 victims. While many see this as a positive move, I see more harm than good that could come as a result of its passage into law.

President Obama has said he will veto the bill should it pass the House.  The ramifications of this act becoming law could be widespread and have the potential for an economic domino effect. The Saudis hold hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. assets and have indicated that they would sell up to $750 billion in U.S. Treasury securities if the law were to pass.  To do so would cause a severe blow to the U.S. economy, the Saudi economy, and would have the potential to de-stabilize the world economy.

Saudi Arabia is our ally and this legislation, if passed, would undoubtedly alienate Saudi Arabia and undermine a longstanding, albeit strained relationship with a critical U.S. ally in the Middle East. Additionally, Senator Graham’s concern is the possibility that it could open the door for foreigners to sue the U.S. government, accusing Washington of supporting terrorism.  Senator Schumer disagrees with that argument, saying “We’re not busy training people to blow up buildings and kill innocent civilians in other countries.” I mostly agree with him, but … I would not want to see that door opened, especially in light of Trump’s claim that he will bomb terrorists and kill their families which, in itself, could easily be considered an act of terrorism.

The Senate unanimously passed the S.1535 yesterday.  Senators Schumer and Cornyn are talking to leaders of both parties in the House in hopes of expediting the vote there.  Paul Ryan has expressed concerns, surprisingly, as that puts him on the same side as President Obama on this one.  If H.R.3143 passes but the president vetoes it, as he has said he will, Schumer and Cornyn believe they can muster enough votes in the Senate to override the veto.

In the end, even if this bill becomes law, it is likely to accomplish very little and potentially cause many more problems.  The idea that it will provide justice to the victims of 9/11 and their families is ludicrous.  I cannot see that anybody will derive any satisfaction from suing a foreign government for their failure to take proper counter-terrorism measures 15 years ago. The likelihood of monetary compensation is slim to none, and what good is it anyway … you cannot replace human life with cash.  As far as sending a message goes … other nations in the Middle East will simply laugh at the notion.  In short, what seemed like a good idea to the heart, does not seem like much of one to the brain.  At least that is Filosofa’s Word.

Two words for last night’s GOP debate: boring, predictable

As a student of International Relations, obviously my interests lie more in the direction of how the next president will handle the many global crises and issues that face the world today than the economy of the U.S., which was the topic of the night.  I tend to find economic discussions taxing (pun intended), to say the least, though not outside my comprehension.  I support raising the minimum wage, though perhaps not to $15 an hour.  I support tax cuts for median-income families who are struggling to put food on the table and their children through college.  I support continued funding of Social Security.  I support curtailing jobs being outsourced overseas and the creation of more jobs at home.  However two hours of discussion about how to achieve our domestic economic goals by eight people who are under-educated on the topic is more than I can abide.  That said, let us move on to the “highlights” of the debate, if one can call them that. (Italicized text is my own thoughts/comments)

  • Nobody appears to want to raise the federal minimum wage:
    • Trump: “ [people] they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum
    • Carson: “ … Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases … only 19.8 percent of black teenagers have a job … that’s because of those high wages ($7.25 is high wages???). If you lower those wages, that comes down.”
    • Rubio: “If you raise the minimum wage, you’re going to make people more expensive than a machine. And that means all this automation that’s replacing jobs and people right now is only going to be accelerated.”
  • Paul blames the democrats and the Federal Reserve for income disparity (he used 268 words to say this, most of which made no sense whatsoever)
  • Carson, who has recently come under fire for stating “non-verifiable facts” (I’m trying to be nice here and not say “outright lies”) regarding his past, whined that he is being lied about. (Yawn #1 – I’m already bored)
  • Bush: I think we need to repeal every rule that Barack Obama has in terms of work in progress, every one of them.  (No clarification as to which “rules” or why, just reverse everything that President Obama has done … that is his proposed policy, and this actually got applause from the audience who also, obviously, have no clue)
  • Fiorina: “ … citizens of this nation must help a President Fiorina get it done.”  (Doesn’t matter what “it” is, because she has no clue either, but what a joke that she already refers to herself as President Fiorina!)
  • Trump: “We will have a wall.”  (Yawn #2 … not this again … can I go now?)
  • Bush: “Thank you, Donald, for allowing me to speak at the debate. That’s really nice of you. Really appreciate that.” (Maybe one of the best lines of the night)
  • Rubio: “… we have a crazy health care law that discourages companies from hiring people,”  (Seriously???  I thought it provided affordable healthcare to millions of citizens.  Silly me.)
  • Cruz: “I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba…”  (Yawn #3)
  • Moderator Cavuto: “Dr. Carson, to you. You say you are in favor of a tax system, I guess akin to tithing, sir, with a flat tax rate of up to 15 percent because you said, if everybody pays this, I think God is a pretty fair guy, so tithing is a pretty fair process.  But Donald Trump says that is not fair. That wealthier taxpayers should pay a higher rate because it’s a fair thing to do. So whose plan would God endorse then, Doctor?”
  • Cruz: “There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible “  (So????)
  • Carson (on being asked to respond to President Obama’s decision to put 50 Special Ops forces on the ground in Syria): Well, putting the special ops people in there is better than not having them there, because they — that’s why they’re called special ops, they’re actually able to guide some of the other things that we’re doing there … Putin is trying to really spread his influence and we have to oppose him  … it’s a very complex place. You know, the Chinese are there, as well as the Russians, and you have all kinds of factions there. (WHOA … the Chinese are there??? Who knew???)
  • Bush (on being asked what is the biggest threat facing America today): “ … Islamic terrorism”.  (Can anybody remember the last time ISIS or al Qaeda or Hamas or Hezbollah attacked citizens on U.S. soil?)
  • Trump: “But, as far as the Ukraine is concerned, and you could Syria — as far as Syria, I like — if Putin wants to go in, and I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stablemates, and we did very well that night. But, you know that. But, if Putin wants to go and knocked [sic] the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it, 100%, and I can’t understand how anybody would be against it…  (Yawn #4 … or is it #5?  So good to know that Trump and Putin are such good buddies, isn’t it?)
  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Well okay, you get the gist.  This takes us up to about mid-point in the debate and I cannot stand any more.  If you are really interested, you can read the entire annotated transcript at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/11/10/well-be-annotating-the-gop-debate-here/

A few brief thoughts to sum up:

  • Why does every single candidate think we care about what their parents and grandparents did for a living? It is irrelevant and frankly uninteresting in this context.  You want the world to know all about your ancestry?  Write a book.  Oh wait … most of them have already written one (or more).
  • I disregarded the whole discussion about tax-reform and a balanced budget because not a single one of these candidates are educated about the topic and it was a “pie-in-the-sky discussion that doesn’t bear repetition nor analysis.
  • I think that Mr. Trump, as well as some other candidates, defines an “American” as White Rich, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant … or WRASP … guess that leaves me out on at least 3 counts. I will be drafting my letter to the Prime Minister of Canada asking for political asylum if, by some freak chance, Trump should become the next president of the U.S.
  • A fellow blogger asked me why I always write about the republicans and never the democrats. I replied that I am having too much fun mocking the GOP. This was the most boring debate … perhaps it IS time to turn my sights to the left …